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Book Reviews

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"A Bell Curve is a Pregnant Straight Line" by Vi Khi Nao

Reviewed by Hannah Bonner

Vi Khi Nao’s sapphic, sartorial poetry collection A Bell Curve is a Pregnant Straight Line organizes itself in four sections, Shorts, Shirts, Skorts, and Skirts, where the body becomes cloth or flame, a tender being or a violent one. As Nao writes in the introduction to the collection, “Flipping like Morse signals, the poems in this collection gather under the pregnant arc of the bell curve in four quadrants that gestate desire.” ...

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"Fieldglass" by Catherine Pond

Reviewed by Hannah Bonner

I read Catherine Pond’s Fieldglass three months after my last heartbreak. Love and sex are brutal; but then again, so is life. In her first collection, Pond’s poems tilt a kaleidoscope of experiences to the light, and the refractions of family, rape, death, self-harm, alcoholism, among others, dazzle in the clarity of their candor...

"Fish Carcass" by Vi Khi Nao

Reviewed by Hannah Bonner

Vi Khi Nao’s sixteenth book Fish Carcass (2022) is a poetic Petri dish of lived experience. The poems speak to trauma, desire, sexual violence, the body, food, and consumption through the form of lists or a medical chart, as well as a series of poems addressed to various aspects of the author’s physic and corporeal being such as “My Spleen” or “My Existence.” There is an amalgamation of seemingly disparate and divergent material that Nao blends together in flavorful and ludic images...

"Intimacies in Borrowed Light" by Darius Stewart

Reviewed by Hannah Bonner

In Darius Stewart’s first book-length collection of poems, he plumbs both the light and darkness of love, desire, illness and addiction with adroit lyricism and narrative aplomb. Stewart’s poems illuminate stories of family, friends, and lovers with the kind of candor one might expect in a confidant. These poems pulse with ardor, expectation, and the possibility of touch’s physical and affective potential...

"Intimacies, Received" by Taneum Bambrick

Reviewed by Hannah Bonner

Taneum Bambrick’s second collection of poetry Intimacies, Received (2022) parses the language and acts of love and sex, trauma and violence, with the stark, plainspoken language of a desert, seared and sustained by light...

"Refusenik" by Lynn Melnick

Reviewed by Hannah Bonner

I don’t remember the first touch or the first comment when I was a girl that conjured me as a woman. I don’t remember all the ways in which I’ve made allowances for the things I never wanted. I don’t remember the first flush of shame: its specific breach, its sting. However, in Lynn Melnick’s third collection of poetry Refusenik (2022), Melnick reminds me that the accrual of assaultive experiences doesn’t need a number to be believable, doesn’t need a number to warrant trauma’s recurring reverberations. Throughout these poems, she explores the generational violence of patriarchy and Anti-Semitism in direct, unflinching prose...

"Slim Confessions" by Sarah Minor

Reviewed by Hannah Bonner

Here’s a slim confession: I have asked the last two men I loved to spit in my mouth, and neither one obliged. Drool play is not an impossible request, but a question of taste (my taste) and of hunger. When I read Sarah Minor’s newest book length essay Slim Confessions: The Universe as a Spider or Spit (Noemi Press, 2021), I know there is a place for my pleasures amidst Minor’s pages, amidst those equally enraptured by slime as a texture, a horror, a performance, or an art...

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